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  • File History: can’t select individual subfolders in AppData to be backed up

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 10 Questions: Win10 File History: can’t select individual subfolders in AppData to be backed up

    This topic contains 10 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by

     BobStr 3 months ago.

    • Author
    • #686922 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      When I first set up File History, I added C:\Users\<user name>\AppData to be included in the folders to be backed up. It later occurred to me that there are only a few subfolders in there that I need backed up, and they’re considerably smaller than the entire AppData folder, which is over 3 GB.

      I therefore deleted AppData from the list and tried to add only specified subfolders (e.g., C:\Users\<user name>\AppData\Local\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles), but found that I couldn’t do it for any of them. I could select a subfolder and click the “Choose this folder” button, but the subfolder wouldn’t then appear in the list of folders to be backed up.

      I then figured I might as well put the entire AppData folder back on the list. I did that, but then not only did AppData appear as a folder to be backed up, so did each of the separate AppData subfolders that I had selected earlier. If I again then removed AppData from the list, all of the AppData subfolders, as well as the main AppData folder, disappeared from the list.

      This all seems very strange. Is there any way of specifying only AppData subfolders of my choosing to be backed up, or is it an all-or-nothing affair? If the former, then how can I do it? Also, though not as important as how, can anyone explain why File History works this way for AppData? It doesn’t appear to work that way for other folders.


    • #688288 Reply

      AskWoody MVP

      Have you tried adding the folder(s) to a library, perhaps creating a new library for the folder? I couldn’t do what you tried to do either.


      • #711794 Reply

        AskWoody Plus

        I’ve never used libraries, since I could never see how they’d be of any use to me, given the way I organize and work with my files. I really do appreciate your suggestion, but at first blush it seems to me that learning more about how to set up and use libraries at this point, just for the purpose of avoiding the inclusion of an extra couple GB in file history would be more burdensome than the problem I’m trying to avoid. But I’ll keep the idea in mind.


    • #741121 Reply


      I’ve never used libraries, since I could never see how they’d be of any use to me

      A library is ideal for what you want here—to group a few folders together for some purpose. Of course, whether or not it’ll help your situation, I don’t know—but it would be a very quick test, so why not?

      Alienware Aurora R6; Win10 Home x64 1803; Office 365 x32
      i7-7700; GeForce GTX 1060; 16GB DDR4 2400; 1TB SSD, 256GB SSD, 4TB HD

      • #771230 Reply

        AskWoody Plus

        I gave it a try, but I apparently don’t understand something fundamental about how File History works.

        I created a suitable library and added folders to it just fine. The problem arose when I then tried to add the library to File History.

        I proceeded in the usual manner, via Settings | Update & Security | Backup | More Options | Add a folder. When I then selected the library, I got this message: “You’ve selected a library. Please choose a folder instead” (screen shot attached). I don’t see any buttons, menus, or otherwise to add a library instead of a folder, and I reconfirmed that selecting the folders themselves doesn’t work, so I’m stumped on how to proceed.

        How do I add a library instead of a folder to File History?



        • #781359 Reply

          AskWoody MVP

          You don’t, it is added by default. Just wait until it updates, or run it manually via Control Panel\System and Security\File History.

          • #801071 Reply

            AskWoody Plus

            I tried it just now. That is, having already created a library for the AppData I wanted to back up, I ran File History manually, but the subfolders I had put in the library weren’t backed up.

            Just to check whether File History was (otherwise) working properly, I created a second library and placed in it a folder that otherwise would not have been included when File History did its next backup. I then ran File History again, and the folder in the just-created library was backed up.

            So it appears that while merely creating a library ordinarily is sufficient to result in File History automatically backing up whatever is in that library, that’s not the case for a library containing AppData subfolders.

            Maybe creating a library that contained the entire AppData folder would work, but I didn’t try it. It would be an extra step to no end, since I can already add that folder directly into File History without creating a library. The problem is that File History just doesn’t want to do what I want; that is, back up individual AppData subfolders, either directly or through a library.

            But thanks for the guidance.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #825696 Reply

      AskWoody MVP

      I see that AppData is a hidden folder (see in properties) even though it’s visible if you tick  show hidden folders in File Explorer. However Mozilla and its sub folders aren’t marked as hidden. I wonder if you unticked hidden in AppData’s properties if they would then show. Would this be a good idea (it’s hidden for a reason)? So I’m stumped.

      I did backup my Firefox profile by copying it into my documents library. It backed up on File History there with no problem, but you need to manually copy it from time to time – not ideal.

      I can’t see anything that helps when I Google either (other than the manual way).

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #826680 Reply

        Da Boss

        The AppData folder is hidden for a reason. Programs use it to store their settings and files that are exclusive to the individual (as opposed to the Program Data folder which is accessible to all users). Microsoft/Windows also does the same. Surely you don’t want the average User in there messing things up.

        Some of my backup software works this way: if I choose to back up a subfolder (lets say I want the Mozilla folder under AppData>Roaming where the profile is kept), the software ticks the AppData folder, the Roaming folder and the Mozilla folder, but the rest remain unticked. It’s like the ticks represent the path to what needs backing up. I don’t use File history, just backup software and sync software, but you might try and see if this is the case with File history as well. Tick the subfolders you want to add, run File history, and see if they are there. Just a stab in the dark.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #827119 Reply

          AskWoody MVP

          I assume Bob is a better than average user! I agree about AppData needing to be hidden. He has tried by adding the relevant folders but it didn’t work. FH is for user files (docs, pics etc.) so I suspect that system files like AppData just aren’t dealt with. FH has teh facility to save up to every 10 minutes – default is hourly. Most backups are at a lesser granularity. If Bob does an image weekly, I doubt it would lose much and he would be able to restore from that image. Macrium Reflect allows that and most of the others do as well as far as I know.

      • #852616 Reply

        AskWoody Plus

        What you say about Firefox is a good illustration of the reason I want to back up certain AppData subfolders with File History. In addition to Firefox, I have three other programs that save important files there, one of which puts critical files in two different subfolders, for a total of five subfolders that I have to back up or suffer serious inconvenience (at best) if anything becomes corrupted or is lost. Relying on myself to do it manually introduces too much unreliability.

        Before I recently got a new computer with Windows 10, I always partitioned my drives in a recommended manner, with system-related stuff on one partition and what you could broadly call document files (including music, word processing macros, etc.) on the other. I’d infrequently image the system drive and frequently back up the entire documents drive. But the inconvenience of that method is that most (all?) programs, by default, want to save files on the system drive, requiring me to change the default locations by hand. Also, some programs recommend against changing default locations, and others are funky about they handle them.

        One example of the latter (there are others) is dbPoweramp, which I occasionally use to convert music files from one format to another. For an indeterminate length of time it converts wav files to mp3 and saves them in the location I’ve designated in a “Music” folder on the documents drive. But although it’s otherwise a very nice program, inevitably, one day when I’m not paying close attention to the location setting, it goes back to wanting to save converted files to a parallel location in the “My Music” folder on the system drive. If I don’t catch it, I then find myself wondering whether the new file was actually created, then having to look for it on the system drive and transfer it to the documents drive.

        That sort of thing drives me nuts, so I decided that starting with the new computer I’d use default locations for everything, periodically image everything, and fine tune what I back up with File History.

        Hence the fretting about how to back up AppData efficiently.

        I just don’t see the logic of Microsoft’s letting you back up the entire AppData file, while not letting you limit the backup to designated subfolders. It must be intentional, but I suspect that there is no logic to it. In any case, the bottom line to this thread seems to be that I’m going to have to back up the entire AppData folder, and consider the extra 2 GB of backup that I don’t need as the (relatively small) price to pay.

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